The ban on vegan cheese production should be withdrawn!
The ban on vegan cheese production should be withdrawn!
Bu kampanya neden önemli?
With a regulation enacted during the Covid-19 pandemic, an unprecedented ban was introduced in Turkey. In line with the recent implementation of the ban, companies producing plant-based (vegan) cheese were fined, vegan cheese products were withdrawn from the market and consumers were denied access to these products. This ban on vegan cheese production and sales should be lifted immediately! #LiftBanOnVeganCheese
As a result of the amendment to the Turkish Food Codex Regulation published in the Official Gazette on February 19, 2020 with the number 31044, breakfast fermented products (vegan cheese/cheese-like) made from plant-based milk were prohibited with an implausible ban. Before the legal change and its implementation until today, there had been no obstacle in the production of these vegan products.
What had happened?
Both in the European Union and in Turkey, according to the Turkish Cheese Communique, it was already forbidden to name plant-based products as "cheese" and to include this expression on the packaging with the claims that these acts qualify as adulteration / deception.
While even this prohibition was criticized by manufacturers and consumers around the world, and massive legal steps were taken to cancel the implementation, this restriction was taken one step further in Turkey with the recent implementation of the new article, thus escalated the ban into a new dimension: The aforementioned plant-based products that even "look like [dairy] cheese in appearance" are forbidden.
Article 9/3 added to the Turkish Food Codex Regulation writes “Products giving the impression of [dairy] cheese cannot be produced using vegetable/plant-based oil or other food ingredients.”
What does this ban mean?
According to the regulation article, any product that is "considered to resemble [dairy] cheese but does not even contain the word cheese in its name" can be prohibited unreservedly. The fact that the necessary clarification has not been made even about the “similarity criteria”, which is said to be the basis of the ban, creates an open-ended mechanism of pressure and intervention for the inspectors / legislators operating in this field.
Trying to stop vegan cheese production and withdrawing vegan cheese products from the market by the recent implementation of this article constitutes a violation of both national and international law.
According to the Department of Food Establishments and Codex within the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which we asked for an appointment to discuss the matter with, even the vacuumed packaging would evoke the idea of [dairy] cheese and this can be considered as "adulteration / deception" on its own too.
What have we done?
Unfortunately, up to this date, no solution has been provided and no constructive steps have been taken regarding this problem, which we conveyed to the authorized person during our visit to the Department of Food Establishments and Codex under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry on April 7, 2022.
Our online petition started when,
- A vegan cheese manufacturer shared on June 17, 2022 with the consumers the information that their sales were stopped due to the aforementioned prohibitions,
- The promised amendments to eliminate the grievances were not implemented,
- The new grievances are being experienced every day by the vegan cheese manufacturers and consumers.
Why is it important to lift the ban?
1. The Right to Nutrition and Freedom of Choice: Individuals who do not consume and/or cannot consume dairy products of animal origin due to ethical, environmental and health reasons, should have access to alternative and nutritious plant-based products. This is within the scope of the most basic right to nutrition and freedom of choice.
2. Violation of Consumer Rights: The prohibitions in question are portrayed as measures taken to protect consumer rights and to prevent adulteration / deception. Furthermore, constructive suggestions are not made to solve the problem and consumers are prevented from accessing these plant-based products.
3. Undermining Production and Trade: While huge changes are being seen in the production and marketing approaches due to visible and rapid shifts in consumer preferences all over the world as a result of climate change and environmental concerns, the production and export of plant-based products in Turkey are suppressed by prohibitions and bans, instead of encouraging them. In the face of this unprecedented ban, the plant-based cheese manufacturing companies that have already invested in this field of work, created production facilities and employment opportunities, stockpiled raw materials, and exported products are now being punished. Fines of high amount, productions that are being stopped or threatened to be stopped, and the material values of the products that are being withdrawn from the marker constitute a serious sum. The plant-based cheese manufacturers in Turkey can't see ahead of this ban because no solution, no way out has been shown to them. This is in stark contrast to the goals and most important duties of the State, which is to improve the competitiveness of national companies in the international market, to facilitate the production, employment and exports, and to develop new technologies.
As the Vegan Association Turkey (TVD), we are determined to use all means to the fullest against these obscure prohibitions based on unfair grounds, which are far from convincing the manufacturers and consumers.
By signing and sharing our online petition, you can help us raise our voice and lift these bans on vegan cheese in Turkey.
Petition cover image source: Vegan cheese by Green Evi